HTC Developing China-Specific Mobile OS

by Matt Klassen on August 29, 2013

It may not matter that HTC has had no luck in the American and European mobile markets of late, as the Taiwanese company may get unprecedented access to the one mobile market everyone is after: China.

Recently the communist regime started to urge Chinese companies to begin developing their own home-grown mobile platforms, ones that speak to the Chinese cultural mindset specifically with the intent of reducing the country’s over-reliance on Western technology. In fact, the Chinese government has never really liked the popularity of Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS in the country, and if it had a comparable Chinese alternative to push, it would gladly do so.

So enter HTC, a company that is in desperate need of a big break, given that the rest of the Android ecosystem it has bet so heavily on in recent years seems to have turned against it. Of course for some the fact that HTC is Taiwanese raises all sorts of thorny questions related to the country’s problematic relationship with mainland China, but the communist government certainly doesn’t see any issue…and with so much money on the line, you can bet HTC doesn’t see any either.

For those unaware, Taiwan has had a long and contentious relationship with mainland China, the former maintaing its independence while the latter assumes Taiwan is simply one of its provinces…a situation that has never officially been settled and one who’s ‘real’ answer depends on who you ask. From China’s perspective, Taiwanis simply one of the family (a little like Tibet, but without the cultural genocide), while ask anyone from Taipei, and they’ll be sure to tell you they’re not part of China.

But that said, the fact China assumes Taiwan is simply part of the country bodes extremely well for HTC, so long as it can put its own national pride on the backburner.

Earlier this year the research arm of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a white paper report condemning the country’s dependence on foreign mobile technology, particularly Google’s Android platform, urging the government to seek home-grown alternatives. The irony of the situation, however, is that some speculate HTC will simply create a Chinese-centric overlay of Android anyways, not really solving the original problem.

That said, the Chinese government is looking for a mobile platform deeply integrated with the country’s various social networking platforms, most notably its Twitter-like service Weibo.

While such a China-centric mobile OS will no doubt speak to the Chinese mindset better than iOS or Android, the added benefit for the regime will be better control, as traditionally the communist party has struggled with the fact that it has very little control over American companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook, an ongoing wrestling match that has seen a variety of services from those companies blocked by the Great Firewall of China.

There’s no question that a strategic alliance with the Chinese government is what HTC needs right now, particularly as it looks to offset the waning popularity of its Android smartphones and its ever-shrinking global smartphone market share. While it’s unlikely that creating a China-specific OS will rocket HTC into the upper echelons of the mobile world, it will give the company the long term stability it desperately needs…a slow pitch right over the plate that the Taiwanese company can hopefully hit out of the park.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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